Blair, James

Full name:

Blair, James

Dates recorded for being in Berrima:

Sept. 1836 – March 1837

Occupation if known and land ownership:

Clerk to the Bench, Registrar of Petty Sessions and Deputy Postmaster


Arrived Free

James Blair’s notable career is summarised in the Australian Dictionary of Biography and in his obituary.[1], Born in Dublin in 1813 he was injured while serving in the artillery corps in Cork and thereafter took up an appointment in the office of John Hubert Plunkett. Plunkett was appointed the NSW Solicitor general in 1832 (later Attorney General) and, perhaps because of this association, Blair and his wife also emigrated, arriving in Sydney in the Undaunted in February 1835. On 1 September 1836 Blair was appointed clerk to the bench at Berrima, replacing Sackville Hamilton Lambart. His salary was £100, supplemented by payment for his roles as registrar of the Court of Requests, worth £30/annum and deputy-postmaster worth £9/annum. He stayed only six months as on 1 March 1837 he was appointed police magistrate at the Vale of Clwydd (Hartley) at a salary of £250.

In 1840 he transferred to Port Phillip becoming the first police magistrate at Portland Bay, the start of a long career in government employ. He retired in 1866 and in 1868 became a director and later the deputy-chairman of the Bank of Victoria. He died at his home in Toorak in 1880.

[1] Kathleen Thomson, ‘Blair, James (1813–1880). In Australia Dictionary of Biography, vol, 1, MUP, 1966 (available online); Portland Guardian, 22 June 1880